Written by Marilyn Hansen with M.J. Boyer

Past Reviews

Soul Cafe
Soul Café, 444 West 42nd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, (212) 244-7685, is the place to get contemporary American southern food. Restaurateur Michael Van is proud of his newest venue, now nearly 2 years old. The spacious location, with a wide frontage on Theatre Row, seats 110 with another 30 seats at the outdoor tables during the summer. Step inside and scan the large bar, the two-level dining room, done up in tones of cocoa brown, ebony paneling, with comfortable, deep, black leather banquettes.

Get comfortable - a basket of warm cornbread and butter will appear on your table. Sip your well-made drink and sample tasty jerk wings, $6.00. Ask for the spicy brown jerk dipping sauce; it hits the spot. Another winner is the Caribbean style coconut shrimp with a mango and papaya chutney ($10). Raw bar aficionado? Try the knockout, spiced chilled seafood cocktail sampler: a whole 1-pound lobster, jumbo shrimp, clams on the half shell and crab legs, presented with lemon wedges and a spicy cocktail sauce ($21.00).

Consider salad, taken as an appetizer or as a main dish with selections such a Caribbean cobb salad with chopped avocado, tomatoes, onions, blue cheese, chicken and shrimp ($11.00). The Cobb is one of my favorite salads; all of the different components make really good eating and it's so easy to eat! Soul Caesar salad with a spicy grilled marinated chicken breast over crisp romaine lettuce leaves, drizzled with a classic Caesar dressing is $11.00. I love anchovies and always ask for more. Caesar salad is hitting the top of the salad charts and this grilled chicken version makes a complete light meal. Wake up your taste buds with blackened salmon filet, grilled mushrooms and baby greens with an apple and grapefruit vinaigrette ($11.00).

It's not called Gumbo Ya Ya, but the Soul Café seafood gumbo hits a high note, zesty, robust, chockfull of shrimp, crawfish, crab legs and monkfish, ladled over fluffy white rice ($20.00). Barbecued smokehouse ribs are tender and smoky ($15.00). Creole fried catfish is crisp and crunchy ($15.00); you can also have it grilled or blackened. Each of these three entrees come with a choice of two sides, macaroni and cheese - cheesy and creamy - tender mixed greens (think collando, dandelion, kale), blackeyed peas and rice, candied yams and garlic mashed potatoes. Let me tell you that the servings are generous. You'll be satisfied for sure. Give a hand for the cooking skill and know-how of Executive Chef Dirk Zephir and Chef de Cuisine Mark Cain.

The desserts, all made in house, are priced at $6.00. Wildberry cobbler - a combination of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries on top of a cobble crust - was very good.

Hours: Soul Café is open seven days. Lunch: Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Sunday: Jazz Brunch, 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Dinner: Sunday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-12:00a.m. Friday and Saturday, 5:30-2:00 a.m.
Credit cards: All major.
Dress: Casual.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes.
Smoking: In the bar area.
Price: $$
Parking: Large parking garage across the street on West 42nd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.
Spotlight: Live jazz after 10:00 p.m. every Thursday and Saturday, two sets, 45 minutes each. Jazz Brunch on Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

The Restaurant Revue Ratings

The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.

$ Inexpensive $25
$$ Moderate $50
$$$ Expensive $100
$$$$ Very Expensive $150

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